As soon a car is driven off the parking lot – or in the case of Tesla vehicles, off the auto carrier – its value drops, although it is generally agreed that a premium car should hold its value for longer. But to what extent does this apply to electric vehicles, which are already more expensive than petrol and diesel cars due to the cost of making the batteries that power them?
A new study put together by vehicle leasing company Vanarama suggests that it does, although there are some exceptions.
Using the Autotrader online car valuation tool, the company says that over the first 8,000km, the winners in terms of least depreciation are the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X. Respectively, they are expected to lose 12%, 14% and 15% each in value over 8,000 kilometres.
But it is the vehicles that follow down the depreciation ladder that raise an eyebrow.
Based on UK pricing, it is the Volkswagen e-Up! that sells in the UK from £23,195 ($A43,964, although it is not available here) that comes in at number 4, with less than £4,000 ($A7,580) or 16% value expected to be lost in the first 8,000km driven.
Coming in at number 5 is the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which sells from £33,960 in the UK and $A48,490 in Australia. According to the data put together by Vanarama, the Ioniq Electric will only lose 17% value over the first 8,000km.
In comparison, the Tesla Model S (one of the more expensive electric vehicles out there) came in at number 6, with an expected 18% value lost over 8,000 kilometres. Curiously, the Tesla Model 3 was not included in the study.
You can see how other models are expected to fare in the chart provided by Vanarama below:
Going the distance
All well and good but how do electric cars go in the long term? This is where it gets interesting, because where the £82,190 Tesla Model S (priced from $A130,900 in Australia) came in well below the e-Up! and the Ioniq Electric, it now jumps into third place losing just 35% of its value over 160,000 kilometres.
Similarly, the Model X jumps from number three into first place. On sale currently in the UK from £87,190 and in Australia from $A144,900, it loses just 28% of its value over 160,000km.
Both the e-Up! and Ioniq still hold up against the more expensive models. The e-Up! in particular performs exceptionally well against the premium electric vehicles, losing 39% of its value over 160,000km.
The numbers are certainly food for thought. Looking at depreciation over time, it would seem that it is the Tesla and Volkswagen/Audi models that present the best investment.
Interestingly, it would appear that it is the Jaguar I-Pace that holds the least value over time – a fact that is highlighted even more so when vehicle models are compared against their internal combustion engine equivalents.
Many of the above models have only been available in Australia for less than 24 months, and of course in the case of the e-Up! it is not availbel here at all. It should also be noted that the variants used in the study above may differ from those available in Australia (the Hyundai Kona is one such example).
Models featured in the research include the below, and those of which are or will be available in Australia are linked to the relevant Models pages.
- Audi e-tron 50 Launch Edition SUV 5dr Electric Auto quattro 71.2kWh
- BMW i3 33kWh Hatchback 5dr Electric Auto
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric 38.3kWh Premium Hatchback 5dr Electric Auto
- Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh SE SUV 5dr Electric Auto
- Jaguar I-PACE 90kWh S SUV 5dr Electric Auto 4WD
- Kia Niro EV E 64kWh 4 SUV 5dr Electric Auto
- Nissan LEAF 40kWh Acenta Hatchback 5dr Electric Auto
- Tesla Model X Long Range SUV 5dr Electric Auto 4WD
- Tesla Model S Long Range Saloon 5dr Electric Auto 4WD
- Volkswagen e-Up! hatchback
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.